Travel Notes: Old Quebec

I spent three days in snowy and freezing Quebec City to see my nephew play in the annual PeeWee Ice Hockey Tournament and to pack in some sightseeing as well. 

Winter in Philadelphia has been so mild that I’ve almost “forgotten” what a snowy landscape looks like until my trip to Quebec City. From the Terrasse Dufferin (a large boardwalk with a great view of the lower town) it was mesmerizing to watch big sheets of ice slowly flowing with the water of Saint Lawrence river.

Saint Lawrence River

A UNESCO World Heritage treasure, Old Quebec is the only fortified city north of Mexico. Rich in historic landmarks and museums, here are some of the highlights of my trip:

Sitting high above the city is the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac which was named after Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac. Frontenac was the governor of the colony from 1672 to 1682, and again from 1689 to 1698 and is known for having defended the colony against British and Iroquois attacks.

This historic and most photographed hotel in the world was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981 and an iconic centerpiece of the UNESCO World Heritage neighborhood of Old Québec.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

A few steps from the Frontenc is the Old Quebec Funicular. The cable car runs on a track to transport passengers who would rather not climb the Breakneck Steps between Upper and Lower Town.


Breakneck Steps or L ‘Escalier Casse-Cou was first built in 1635 and has 59 steps. Hang on to the railings because it could get slippery during the winter with snow and ice covering the ground!

L ‘Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps)

My favorite part of Old Quebec is Petit Champlain. Named the best street in Canada, Petit Champlain is the oldest commercial neighborhood in North America where you will find local shops and bistros. It is charming beyond words with its cobbled streets, stone facades, colorful murals, ice sculptures, and window boxes and planters which were still decorated in all of the splendor of the Christmas holiday season.

La Fresque du PetitChamplain was created in 2001 to depict the significant stages in the history of Cap-Blanc, a working-class port neighborhood in Quebec.

A traditional culture of Quebec is the maple syrup taffy – also known as sugar or candy on the snow. This sugar candy is made by boiling maple sap before pouring onto the snow, then lifting either with a small wooden stick, such as a popsicle stick, or a metal dinner fork. I resisted indulging in this sweet treat for as long as I could but when in Quebec …

Maple Taffy

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